DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This one is for my fellow Bananigan and friend The Spoon (aka clomle44). She had a big exam to take and requested that I write her an R&I story to help her get through it or bring her luck or something like that. Actually, I'm not sure what it was supposed to do other than distract her from her exam! I probably took lots of liberties with the exam/re-certification requirements/results for medical examiners in the State of Massachusetts. Google was helpful, but I really did my own thing for the sake of the story I wanted to tell. I don't think it's totally unbelievable and I didn't think readers would mind too much. As always, I look forward to your feedback… :-)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To sunsetwriter[at]mindspring.com

The Big Test
By sunsetwriter


Dr. Maura Isles was having a bad day. A terrible, awful, no good, really bad day. First, she spilled her coffee on the way in to work this morning – never a good way to start the day. Then, she arrived to discover that her first autopsy was a 'floater', as Detective Rizzoli insisted on referring to bodies found in water. Floaters are an even worse way to start the day than spilled coffee. Then, she broke the heel off of one of her new shoes on her way back from lunch – she really should have known there was a reason they were priced so drastically below normal retail price. And now, she had just received an email notifying her that her re-certification exam had been moved up two weeks due to unscheduled renovations at the local testing facility. To quote Jane again, 'Really?'

"Hey," the detective's familiar raspy voice greeted Maura as Jane suddenly appeared in the doorway to the medical examiner's office. "Wanna grab a beer and a burger at The Robber tonight?" Jane asked as she flopped down in the red chair in front of Maura's desk. "Ow! I really hate this chair!"

Maura looked up from her computer screen to mildly scold her friend. "Well, it's not made for 'flopping'."

"I'm not even sure it made for sitting," Jane said as she stood up and repositioned herself on the couch. She looked curiously at Maura. "Why are you all frowny?"

Maura sighed. "I've just received an email that my exam that was originally scheduled for a month from now has been moved up two weeks. That only gives me the next two weeks to complete my study preparations."

Jane raised her eyebrows. "Two weeks? You're a walking Wikipedia, why do you even need two weeks?" She made a 'pffft' sound and waved one hand as she added, "You'll do fine."

"Jane," Maura said in a chastising voice. "It's my re-certification exam. I can't take it lightly. Eighty-five percent of examinees don't achieve a passing score the first time they take the certification exam."

"Did you pass it the first time?" the detective asked with a smirk.


"So, there, Dr. Google, you're obviously in the other fifteen percent. No worries!" She slapped her leg and stood up. "Let's go get a burger."

"Jane, I have to go home and study."

Jane rolled her eyes. "OK, we'll get burgers to go, and I'll help you study."

Maura stared at Jane, but didn't speak. She was flattered that Jane wanted to help her, but she wasn't sure exactly how helpful she could be in this case.

"What? I know I'm not a doctor, but I can read and ask you questions, can't I? We'll make flash cards or something," Jane said with a shrug.

"Flash cards?" Maura asked with a frown.

"Yeah, you know. Like when you were a kid."

Maura gave her a blank look and asked, "And what does one do with these 'flash cards'?"

"You're kidding me. You never used flash cards?" Maura shook her head. "You write a word or a question on a card and on the back you write the definition or the answer. I show you or ask you the question on the front of the card and you give me the answer."

"The answer that I've already written on the back?"

"Exactly. I'll know whether it's right or wrong because I can see the correct answer written on the back," Jane explained.

Maura frowned. "But, if I've already provided the correct answer on the back, why do I need you to ask me the question again?"

Jane started to speak and then stopped and frowned. "Well, I guess that explains why my mother always made my flash cards when I was a kid…" Then she gave Maura what basically amounted to a pout face and said, "We're not going to get a burger tonight, are we?"

Maura smiled ruefully and shook her head.

Jane nodded. "Well, you have to take a study break, right?"

Maura looked skeptical.

"Oh, come on, Maura," Jane all but pleaded. "You can't hit the books all night. I'm sure there's some scientific study out there that says it's good for your brain to take a break every now and then."


Jane beamed. "Good! I'm all about study breaks. See you at nine!" She turned on her heel and was out the door before Maura could even respond.

Maura was finding it incredibly difficult to keep her attention on her studies. She had always been able to block out the rest of the world and study with complete focus. But tonight was different. She was actually looking forward to putting down the books and spending time with Jane. In fact, if Maura were being completely honest with herself, her whole world had been different since she met Jane Rizzoli.

Maura had never had a best friend before. Sure, she had had friends, but never anyone like Jane. Never anyone who seemed to accept her so easily, with her obvious intelligence, huge vocabulary and social awkwardness – none of which seemed to matter to Jane, other than to provide the frequent fodder for good-natured teasing. And she had certainly never had a friend who was more unlike herself than Jane. They were so different, it was almost hard to comprehend that they were friends at all. But Maura couldn't deny that she had never felt even a fraction as close to anyone else as she felt to Jane. And even though Jane had never been overtly flirtatious, Maura couldn't help but wonder occasionally if the detective felt more for her than just friendship. The way she looked at her sometimes, made Maura wish she could find the nerve to ask. Maybe one day she would find the courage to test her theory. She shook her head to clear her thoughts and tried again to focus on the textbook in front of her.

At 8:55 pm, Maura heard Jane's keys unlocking her front door and the doctor felt an involuntary smile forming on her lips. To her surprise, the detective only uttered one word of profanity tonight as she fumbled with opening the door while juggling her keys and balancing her packages.

Maura was sitting on her couch, surrounded by open textbooks, stacks of journals, and numerous notes scattered about when Jane entered the room carrying a large grocery bag, a smaller plastic bag, and a six-pack of beer.

She put her purchases on the kitchen counter and turned to Maura, who was watching her with curiosity.

"I'm your official study break, remember? I came prepared," she said in response to Maura's silent but questioning gaze.

The detective began unpacking her bags as Maura continued to watch. Two bags of chips, a tub of French onion dip, a tub of bleu cheese dip, a deli-box of buffalo wings, two bags of M&M's – one plain and one peanut – and another smaller paper bag, that obviously held a bottle of wine, were all retrieved from the grocery bag. From the plastic bag, Jane pulled out a bag of baby carrots, a bag of celery cut into bite-size pieces, and a small tub of strawberries.

"Brain food," she said with a smile as she looked up to find Maura still watching with interest now mixed with amusement.

"Mine or yours?" Maura asked with a chuckle.

"Both," Jane replied holding up the bag of carrots, shaking it for emphasis. "I brought healthy options." Then she picked up the strawberries. "I even brought Bass a treat."

Maura tilted her head and smiled. "Jane, how sweet."

Jane smirked and picked up the brown bag containing the bottle of wine. Bringing it over and handing it to Maura, she said, "Bet you'll think this is even sweeter…"

"Oh, Jane, I really can't. I have to study," the doctor said as she accepted the bottle.

"Uh huh," Jane said as she walked back to the kitchen. She smirked again when she heard the little gasp from Maura as she pulled the bottle out of the bag.

"Well, perhaps I can have just one glass while I'm taking a break," Maura said as she all but fondled the bottle of her favorite Pinot Noir.

Jane returned from the kitchen with an open bottle of beer, an empty wine glass and a corkscrew. Placing the beer and glass on the coffee table, she smiled as she took the bottle of wine from Maura and opened it. After she poured a glass and handed it to Maura, she picked up the beer and offered a toast.

"Here's to you acing your test – again."

Maura clinked her glass to Jane's bottle and took a sip, savoring the taste. "Thank you, Jane. It means a lot that you have so much confidence in my abilities."

"So what kind of test is this any way?" the detective asked as she took the seat next to Maura and propped her feet on the table, crossing her legs at the ankles.

"Well, it's part oral, part written, and part practical."

"So, you have to examine bodies and stuff?"

"That's a distinct possibility."

"Well, you can always use me to practice if you want." Maura's eyes widened and Jane stopped mid-sip. "Not to cut up or anything! But, you know, if you need to… palpitate, or however you say it…"

Maura smiled. "I think you mean palpate."

"If that means 'poke around without slicing and dicing', then that's what I mean."

Maura eyed Jane with curiosity and seemed to give her a visual once-over as she contemplated the idea.

Seeing the look in Maura's eyes, Jane said, "What? I've been hanging around with Joe Friday for a while. I think I could 'play dead' pretty well."

"Oh, I'm sure you could, it's just…" Maura's earlier thoughts ran through her mind.


"Well, I'm not used to examining live specimens…" Maura mused. "I'm not sure how I would react to running my hands over warm, supple skin."

Maura's tone of voice, accompanied by the way she was looking at Jane, made the detective stop and think about what she was really offering. She swallowed almost audibly. "Uh, yeah, maybe that's not such a good idea after all."

Picking up on Jane's sudden nervousness, Maura smiled. "Why? Do you think my palpations might cause you to have palpitations?"

Jane attempted to smirk, but she actually had more of a 'deer in the headlights' expression. "No! Why would they?"

Maura continued to smile. "Well, I suppose if I palpated a particularly sensitive area, it could cause such a reaction…"

"Geez, Maura, I wasn't suggesting that you 'cop a feel', I was just offering to help you study," Jane said sarcastically, hoping Maura didn't notice she was being overly defensive.

"Is that different from 'feel a cop'? Because I believe that's what you offered," Maura replied, trying her best to keep a straight face.

"Funny." When Maura continued to look at Jane as if she were waiting on an answer, Jane finally said, "Yeah, it's different."

"How so?"

Jane looked at Maura with disbelief. Maura was giving the detective her best innocent look, making Jane believe that she really wasn't familiar with the phrase. It wouldn't be the first time Maura didn't understand slang, so Jane attempted to explain. "You know… 'cop a feel', groping in a… sexual manner. I'm talking about palpi… pating, not groping."

"Oh," Maura replied still trying to keep the charade. "So you're telling me that you don't put out on study dates?"

Jane, who had just taken a sip of her beer, sputtered and coughed. "Oh my God! Did you really say that?"

"Well, this does seem a little bit like a date. It's Friday night, you bought me food and wine, and now we're sitting here side-by-side on the couch. I think I should at least get to grope you a little."

Jane's chin dropped and she looked at Maura, trying desperately to figure out if she was joking. It was unlike Maura to tease so blatantly, but Jane really couldn't fathom that Maura was being serious. In her dreams, maybe, but not sitting here beside her on the couch. "I think I'm a bad influence on you. I've turned you into a smartass."

Maura's eyes twinkled. "I'm not being a smartass. Well, maybe just a little. But, I'm also curious as to why the thought of my hands on your body seems to make you so nervous."

"What?! Nooooo. Nuh uh," Jane said, shaking her head. "That doesn't make me nervous."

Maura smiled and tilted her head as she looked intently at Jane. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," she said in a teasing voice.

"Quoting Shakespeare, now that's the Maura I know. And, I'm not nervous," Jane replied adamantly.

"That is one of the most commonly misquoted Shakespearean quotes."

"Yep, definitely the Maura I know."

"Most people say 'methinks the lady doth protest too much' instead of the original quote that I just used."

"But it still means the same thing."

"It certainly does," Maura said in a way that made Jane think she had just missed the punch line or something. As Jane's brain raced to catch up, Maura scooted over a little closer to the detective.

Jane looked at her curiously and leaned slightly in the opposite direction. "What are you doing?"

"Conducting a test."

"I thought you were studying for a test."

"You're providing me with a study break, remember?" Maura replied as she placed her hand on Jane's knee.

The detective noticeably swallowed again as she looked down at Maura's hand. "Yeah... and I brought brain food to prove it. Just what kind of a test are you conducting?" Jane asked as she placed her beer bottle on the coffee table, so the fact that her hands had begun to shake slightly wouldn't be as noticeable.

Maura smiled as she slid her hand up to Jane's thigh, causing the detective to fidget and inhale sharply. "I'm just trying to determine if you're nervous because I make you uncomfortable or if you're nervous for another reason entirely…"

"You don't make me uncomfortable. Much." She placed her hand on top of Maura's. "And, I'm not nervous," she added in a raspy voice.

Maura looked up into dark brown eyes. "Then why is your hand shaking?"

Jane held her gaze for a moment and then said, "OK, maybe I'm a little nervous."


"Because…" Jane's voice trailed off as she searched for a reason she was willing to share with Maura.

"Because… why?" Maura pressed.

"Because of the way you're lookin' at me!" Jane blurted out.

"And how am I looking at you?" Maura asked calmly.

"I don't know." Jane glanced back down at their hands as the hand beneath her own began to gently caress her leg. Then she looked back up at Maura and said softly. "Almost like you want to kiss me or something…"

Maura tilted her head and said quietly, "If it's just 'almost' then I must be doing something wrong."

Jane was at a loss for words as she continued to look intently into Maura's eyes. The way Maura was looking back at her seemed to short-circuit her brain, but the words finally sunk in, bringing Jane to the sudden realization: She wants me as much as I want her. Jane's next action seemed to surprise them both as she quickly reached up, cupping the back of Maura's head and pulled the doctor to her, crushing their lips together.

The kiss had a hunger and intensity to it that Maura didn't expect, but it also held a sweetness and longing that was everything Maura had hoped for. As first kisses go, it was pretty spectacular.

When they parted, Jane looked at Maura with amazement. "Wow, that was… I don't… I can't… You… Wow." The detective stammered and finally settled on her first thought to sum up the experience.

Maura smiled. "Well, if I've rendered Detective Rizzoli speechless, I'll take that as a compliment."

Jane smirked. "You know, you could have just told me you wanted to kiss me."

"I honestly didn't know if you wanted to kiss me back, and I didn't want to risk our friendship if I asked and you didn't," Maura explained.

Jane's look softened. "Maura?"

"Yes, Jane?"

"I want to kiss you back. Again and again and again."

"Well, any good test calls for repeated measures," Maura said with a smile as she leaned in for another kiss.

This time when they parted, the Rizzoli bravado was starting to kick in. "So, whaddya think? Do I pass the test?"

Maura nodded. "So far..."

"So far? What, do we have more 'studying' to do?" Jane asked in a teasing voice.

Maura pushed a textbook out of the way. "I think I'm done studying for tonight."

"But, what about all the brain food I brought?"

"It won't go to waste." Jane's eyes widened as Maura shifted positions and, in one swift motion, threw her leg across Jane and settled in her lap, straddling the detective, so they were face to face. "We're probably going to be hungry… later."

"Later?" Jane asked as she brought her hands up to pull Maura closer.

"Mmm hmm," Maura all but purred. "You've only completed part one of the test. You still have the oral and hands-on portions to go…"


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